Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray is a life-long Unitarian Universalist. Serving in ministry for 17 years, Susan brings the vision and the experience needed to lead our Association. From youth leadership at her home congregation in St. Louis to her current ministry in Phoenix, Susan has been part of congregations in all five regions of the UUA, giving her insight and experience in the regional differences across our movement. In the two congregations she has served as settled Minister, Susan has led significant organizational, strategic, numeric and financial growth.
Organizing for justice has always been central to Susan’s ministry. Because of her strong relationships and partnerships with community-based organizations in Phoenix, in 2011, current UUA President Peter Morales hired Susan to lead the Arizona Immigration Ministry. In this role, she was central to the planning and implementation of the 2012 Justice General Assembly in Phoenix. Susan was responsible for key political relationships with grassroots migrant rights groups and their connection to the UUA. She was described as “the face, voice and power” behind Justice GA which culminated in a 2000+ person candlelight vigil outside of Tent City Jail.
To the UUA Presidency, Susan brings the ability to articulate clearly our faith and its prophetic imperative in this moment. Additionally, she brings well-developed skills in vision casting, strategic decision-making, and strong spiritual and relational skills needed to develop the buy-in and capacity necessary for change within and outside of our congregations. These skills are critical to lead the Unitarian Universalist Association for greater mission and impact in the 21st century.
Prior to ministry, Susan received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and worked briefly in the field of genetic research in St. Louis, MO and Cambridge, MA.
Lead Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix
August 2008 – presentThe spiritual and executive leader of a congregation of over 400 adults, 90 children and youth, which owns and operates a preschool and summer camp. The congregation operates under policy-based governance, guided by strong strategic planning. Susan serves as the Chief Executive. During the eight years of Susan’s ministry, the congregation has grown by over 36% in both membership and financial operations. Susan has also led two successful capital campaigns in this role.
Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, Ohio
August 2003 – June 2008As solo-minister helped revive a downtown, urban congregation. In these five years, the congregation grew by over 30% in households, 50% in pledge income and held a successful capital campaign to add an elevator and make the building handicap accessible.
Sabbatical and Intern Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville
August 2001 – December 2002Included a full time 10-month internship and a 4-month full time sabbatical ministry. Just three weeks into the internship, with the Senior Minister of out town, Susan was the pastoral leader to the congregation on September 11, 2001, and led congregational services on the night of the attacks and the next night.
Student Minister, Winchester Unitarian Society, Winchester, MA
September 1999 – June 2001During seminary, Susan served part-time for two years as a student minister working with the Minister of Religious Education. She taught 6th & 7th grade RE, Coming of Age, and helped with training and program organization, including developing a drug and alcohol education program for teens in partnership with the MRE and lay leaders.
Volunteer Youth Leadership, Eliot Chapel, Kirkwood, MO
1990-1993Provided leadership in YRUU youth group, served on the Youth Adult Committee (YAC), and helped organize youth conferences for St. Louis area congregations and the Central Midwest District.
Lead Organizer, Arizona Immigration Ministry (AZIM)
July 2011 – June 2012Hired by current UUA President Peter Morales, to lead the Arizona Immigration Ministry, a ministry committed to nurturing effective partnerships with grassroots migrant rights groups in helping to plan and implement the 2012 Justice General Assembly. Worked with the key local partners, the General Assembly Planning Committee, UUA senior Staff, UUA Board of Trustees, and the GA Accountability Group to carry out a powerful Justice GA which culminated in 2,000+ person candlelight vigil outside of Sheriff Arpaio’s notorious Tent City Jail.
Executive Board Member, ACTION
Jan 2004 – June 2008ACTION (Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods) is Youngstown’s interfaith, multi-racial Congregational Based Community Organization affiliated with the Gamaliel Foundation. Focus issues included Education, Economic Equity between city and suburbs, and Immigration Justice. Additional leadership roles in ACTION included:
- Treasurer, 2007-2008
- Clergy Caucus member, 2003 – 2008
Chair, Gamaliel Ohio Metropolitan Equity Task Force
June 2005 – May 2006Chair of a new statewide steering committee bringing leaders from Cincinnati, Cleveland and Youngstown together to coordinate on state wide policy reform in the interest of smart growth and regional equity. Major accomplishments included the organization of an Ohio Metropolitan Equity Summit gathering mayors, public officials, religious leaders, educators and policy experts to discuss Ohio’s future and unveil specific policy reforms concerning education, jobs, healthcare and transportation for Ohio.
Board Member, Gamaliel National Leadership Assembly
Jan 2004 – March 2005Worked with Gamaliel staff and national leaders to plan and implement the annual Gamaliel National Leadership Assembly conference.
Clergy Caucus Member, Tying Nashville Together (TNT)
2001-2003Nashville’s interfaith, multi-racial Congregational Based Community Organization affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation.
Service to the Larger Movement
UUMA Chapter Leadership
- April 2014–April 2016 — President, Pacific Southwest District UUMA Chapter
- Jan 2005–April 2008 — Treasurer, Ohio Meadville District UUMA Chapter
Special Guest Speaker – Metro New York District Annual Meeting
- May 2012 — Speech titled “With Love as Our Guide”
Keynote Presenter—Florida District Assembly Annual Meeting
- May 2012 – For the Annual Meeting theme “Crossing Borders” the Rev. Jose Ballester, Patricia Jimenez and I were the joint keynote and program presenters.
Keynote Speaker – Immigration Justice Conference, Cincinnati, OH
- March 2012 – The UU Council of Greater Cincinnati, the League of Women Voters and Dreamer Students organized this conference, which included presentations from national immigration attorneys and federal and city officials. Keynote speech titled “March Forth for Justice”
Keynote speaker – 6th Annual St. Lawrence District Social Justice Conference
- Oct 2011 – I was the keynote speaker for the conference “Repairing the Statue of Liberty: UU’s and Immigration in the U.S.” Keynote speech titled “The Courage to Love”
Minister/Chaplain at Camp de Benneville Pines
- February 2016 — Winter Elementary Camp
- July 2015 — Summer Family Camp
Collegium, An Association for Liberal Religious Studies
- 2002–2003 — Junior Program Chair
- 2001–2002 — Chair of Ethics Section
- 2000–2001 — Junior Chair of Ethics Section
Masters of Divinity
Harvard Divinity School, 2001In addition to theology and practical arts, Susan’s degree focus was on social and environmental ethics. Master’s thesis was an Adult Religious Education curriculum, “Ethics in the Genetic Landscape” exploring issues of ethics related to modern genetic technologies.
Bachelor of Science Molecular Biology
University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1997Senior research paper was “Ethical Issues in Human Infertility and Reproductive Technologies.” Research explored role of environmental pollutants in infertility and issues of race and class in access to reproductive technologies.
Engaging Boards in Fundraising – May 2015
The Association of Fundraising ProfessionalsSkills and techniques to engage non-profit board members in fundraising, including how to match particular efforts with the skills of your board members and highlighting the importance of fundraising as a critical role of board members.
Inside the Large Congregation – September 2013
Led by the Rev. Susan Beaumont, Alban Senior Consultant for Large Congregations.Topics included the role of the Senior Minister, vision casting, staffing and supervision, growth challenges in the large congregation, dynamics of size, governance and Board leadership, and strategic planning
Reaching (and Doing) More by Being Less – February 2013
Institute for Excellence in Ministry with the Rev. Scott Tayler, currently Director of Congregational Life at the UUA.Topics covered included theme-based ministry, membership and leadership development, and an overall method for organizing congregational ministry around mission and vision.
Cultural Change in Organizations – February 2011
Institute for Excellence in Ministry with Beth Zemsky, Intercultural Organizational Development SpecialistFive-day seminar introduced the intercultural developmental scale and tools to move organizations forward in becoming more interculturally adaptive.
Dreaming Big – September 2008 – May 2010This two-year continuing education course was an initiative of the Senior Ministers of Large UU Congregations (SMOLUUC) and the UUA, providing training for ministers specifically identified as having potential to serve large congregations.
Media and Public Witness Training – 2007 and 2010UUMA and Standing on the Side of Love media training with Helio Fred Garcia, professional media consultant.
Community Organizing Training
- Gamaliel National Leadership Assembly – December 2004 and December 2005
- Gamaliel National Weeklong Leadership Training – July 2004
- NTOSAKE: Gamaliel Women’s Leadership Training – October 2003
- Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) 10-day Leadership Training – July 2002
Additional Continuing Education
- Race and Regionalism Conference – May 2005 – Presented by the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota
- Ministry as Spiritual Discipline – Jan 2005 – Presented by the Rev. Barbara Merritt
- Clergy Sexual Misconduct Prevention Training – Jan 2003
- District Anti-Racism Training (DART) – March 2002 – Thomas Jefferson District
- Family Systems Theory and Congregational Leadership – November 2001
Awards, Honors and Recognitions
- 2015 UUA Westwood Award recipient for “exceptional entrepreneurial spirit in congregational leadership.”
- 2009 Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action awarded to the UU Congregation of Phoenix for our work in partnering with grassroots immigrant rights groups in calling for a federal investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
- 2007 Youngstown’s “40 under 40 Club” This award honors 40 young professionals, under 40 years old, making an impact in their chosen profession and having demonstrated a commitment to community involvement.
- 2006 Speaker at the Interfaith Worship Service celebrating the inauguration of Youngstown’s first African-American mayor, Jay Williams.
- 2000 Runner-up for the Unitarian Universalist Collegium Scholars award for the paper, “Creating a Future of Hope and Meaning: Engaging Science in Unitarian Universalist Religious Education.”
Publications and Appearances
- “The Power and Poverty of Freedom” — Quest: Journal of the Church of the Larger Fellowship; April 2016
- “Finding Our Way in the Wilderness” — Quest: Journal of the Church of the Larger Fellowship; June 2014
- 2004 Intergenerational Worship Service, “Old Turtle and the Broken Truth.”
- “Stealing America Vote by Vote” (2005) from documentary filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman, documents voter machine irregularities in Ohio during the November 2004 Presidential Election
- “Two Americans” (2012) a film by Daniel Devivo and Valeria Fernandez
- “The State of Arizona” (2014) from Independent Lens, PBS documentary